8 Reasons “Give Up Tomorrow”
is Required Viewing
for Anyone Watching
“Jacqueline Comes Home”
By Kel Fabie
If you’re a fan of Meg Imperial and Donnalyn Bartolome (or Joel Torre and, well, Alma Moreno), you might have been contemplating watching a movie called Jacqueline Comes Home, a film that has been hyped with a lot of buzz due to the controversial nature of the case involving the Chiong sisters over two decades ago.
A documentary released seven years ago, Give Up Tomorrow, (which you can watch here) questioned the results of this trial, pointing out inconsistencies with witnesses, railroading, and even the bypassing of the human rights of the accused, resulting in what most people labeled proof positive that “the Philippine justice system is a mockery.”
And while we can’t, in good conscience, demand people watch Give Up Tomorrow instead of Jacqueline Comes Home, we’d want to at least implore everyone who wants to watch the former to also watch the latter, because it’s essential viewing in order to understand what actually happened – even if you don’t believe that the accused were innocent (and most people who would cite the Supreme Court decision probably wouldn’t).
Here are 8 reasons why you should watch the documentary if you still plan to watch the film:
8. It gives us a good picture of both sides of the issue.
Yes, Give Up Tomorrow is slanted. Very slanted. In order to maximize the narrative of Paco Larrañaga’s innocence, it chose to air only the questionable things about the trial that worked in their favor and cast doubts over the integrity of everyone involved on the side of the prosecution. But it also can’t hide the fact that this case has been reviewed multiple times, and legal minds far keener than ours have affirmed their decisions.
So why is this very slanted picture of the issue better than the movie Jacqueline Comes Home? Because that movie doesn’t even do a good job of representing the side of the Chiongs, either, and entertains the conspiracy theory that Jacqueline Chiong is still alive and well, somehow, which is literally purely hearsay and has no basis in fact whatsoever.
7. It shows you that even powerful people can find themselves helpless.
Paco’s family might not be as powerful as they have been made out to be, but they are not pushovers. Despite that, to see how helpless Paco was despite the defense he thinks he has mustered up should be a wakeup call to anyone who thinks that their day in court will go their way if they only play their cards right.
If a supposed scion of a political clan isn’t safe from a railroaded agenda, guilty or not, which of us are safe, really?
6. It breaks down the concept of reasonable doubt without saying so.
“Guilty beyond reasonable doubt” are very strong words requiring a burden of proof you don’t normally get from people arguing on the street. That up to now, so many questions about the case still linger despite all the time spent in the courts should give us a hint that many people still feel that there is “reasonable doubt” to be had here.
As a culture, this is a double-edged sword, because we see so many people blatantly hurting us, throwing us under the bus, yet we still think we should wait and see solely because of “reasonable doubt,” even when that concept is stretched to absurdly comical levels, and worse, only for the things and people we like, while we think the worst of everyone and everything else.
5. It shows us the side we often ignore.
“But what about the criminals?” This is normally a question we scoff at, but Give Up Tomorrow turns that very concept on its head and makes us wonder who the bad guys really are. If only for the ability to be more critical-minded of everything that comes to us, this is essential to learning how to get by in life. A black-and-white narrative often hides something important from our sight, and by design.
4. It encourages us to question what we normally just accept.
After watching the documentary, I naturally questioned the results of the trials that eventually sent the “Chiong seven” to death row. After reading the SC decision, I learned to again question the documentary. Then I realized that the SC decision was penned by someone related to the Chiongs, and I questioned right back.
Do I have the answers? Of course not. But that kind of questioning is a lesson we are more than willing to emphasize a few times on this list just to get this point across, because if there’s one thing we should be doing more as a people, it’s to question everything presented to us. Intelligently.
3. It makes us want to demand better.
In violating Paco’s rights, regardless of his actual guilt, we are shown a kind of recklessness and impunity that comes with people incentivized to find guilt wherever they first look. In seeing what most perceive to be a miscarriage of justice being carried out right before our eyes, we end up wondering if this is the kind of system we should be willing to stake people’s lives and freedoms on. And in demanding accountability for this kind of recklessness, we better the system not just for ourselves, but for the future.
Alternatively, we could just revel in the schadenfreude until the day it happens to us. That seems to be the mentality du jour, too.
2. It’s actually a great watch.
Which is more than can be said for the other one, given this review. By all indications, the real victims of Jacqueline Comes Home are anyone who paid good money to see it. Unless you wanted to see Alma Moreno practically bring to life her “dasal lang, dasal lang talaga” comments in the film, of course, as she’s depicted praying onscreen about a dozen times.
1. It isn’t a ‘90s massacre film with a fresh coat of paint.
At its core, Give Up Tomorrow is a documentary that, while clearly slanted in agenda, still argues its side by using facts and logic for the most part. On the other hand, Jacqueline Comes Home is a grisly re-enactment of a tragedy tacked in with completely fictional elements for dramatic purposes, and as these films are wont to do, all too happy to depict a salacious and lurid crime for entertainment value. It’s a disservice not just to the accused but to the victims as well to have their story turned into a bad movie that would make Lino Brocka turn in his grave just so he could look away from the trainwreck. If you don’t believe me, just check out who directed the film, and the picture couldn’t be clearer if you retitled the movie as Jacqueline Comes Home: God Save Us.
If you, like I, really wanted to support Joel Torre despite this project, you can always drop by JT’s Manukan instead of watching the film.
What do you think of the documentary? Tell us below!